On-Going Outlining Saga


As you know, if you’ve been reading my blog for any length of time, I’ve been working on my entr’acte between Give the Lady a Ride and The Final Ride using Katie Weiland’s Outlining Your Novel workbook–an experiment of sorts, since I write by the seat of my pants, with only the slightest curtsy toward outlining. It’s time for an update.

I sat down to the workbook without a clue what my book would be about. Katie’s questions helped me develop an idea, turn the idea into a plot, and finally develop all the scenes necessary to carry the plot through from beginning to end. I know all the extra characters I didn’t know before, the different settings I’ll need, and each plot point and where they occur, even key bits of dialogue. I have to admit–that’s pretty cool.

So, now the writing starts. Will this outline really help, or will I go off on tangents? Actions demand reactions, words require response–what if my characters say or do something I didn’t see coming? Should I continue outlining until I have every contingency covered? Do I dare “wing-it” and run the risk of varying from the outline? All the work that went into it–what’s the point of it if I don’t follow it, right?

I wonder if long-time outliners face this dilemma.

I do feel as if my wings have been clipped. I feel obligated to follow the outline, regardless of what crops up while I write. I must rein in my characters and make them toe the line. At least that’s how it seems now. I haven’t started writing yet–maybe it’s not as bad as all that. This is the most complete outline I’ve ever done, but it still allows some leeway. Maybe that’s a good thing. Maybe it will allow my free-wheeling mind to explore other possibilities as I write.

Or maybe I should continue outlining until there are no more rabbit trails to hunt. I know some authors who outline to the point that there are no surprises when they sit down to write–but they’re mostly mystery/suspense/thriller authors. I can understand how necessary it is for them to know every aspect of their work before they actually start writing.

Well, we’ll see. I may just run with what I have and see what happens. Mom week is coming up, and I’ll have to interrupt my creative process for several days, but maybe having the outline will help me pick up where I left off. I have to admit, I’m curious about how all this will work.

Experienced outliners are probably laughing at me right now. SOTP’ers are probably wondering if I’m going to leave their ranks. Frankly, I don’t know. I’ve been a hybrid for a while now–a fence sitter, a borderline traitor to the SOTP cause. Will I cross over?

Stay tuned.

About Linda W. Yezak

Author/Freelance Editor/Speaker (writing and editing topics).
This entry was posted in write tips, Writing and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

8 Responses to On-Going Outlining Saga

  1. I need to check out that work book. I do a loose outline so I know where the story is headed, but I have not done one as precise as the one you’ve done. I write the ending first and then knowing where the story needs to end up and I add scenes follow that goal. Wwe won’t count the first book – that was indeed a learning process which needed to be re-written 😉 ), but the second book was done with a more solid outline. It did make a difference in story flow. However, I still like some spontaneity. If it surprises me, it’s sure to surprise the reader too, right? 🙂 It will be interesting to follow your progress with, or without, the this detailed of an outline.


  2. Gay Ingram says:

    Plunge in and write…but keep a notepad ready for those inspirations that will need exploring, I say.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. K.M. Weiland says:

    I think one of the reasons I like outlining so much is that I hate that kind of “loose” feeling like you’re floundering along, making stuff up as you go, with no notion if it’s going to be good or not. I like the outline because of the structure it provides, but I can see why some people find that very structure to be confining.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I rarely “flounder.” Usually, when I sit down to write, I’ve put tons of thought into what would go onto the page, even if it’s just one scene at a time. However, when I get distracted and can’t dedicate the brain time to it, I do tend to wonder what’s next and get frustrated when I can’t get back in the groove. But I did that with the outline too.

      I did like the structure when writing *The Final Ride*, even though I didn’t outline the entire thing at once. I’d get ideas for scenes ahead of where I was and jot them down. When I reached the point where they fit, I was home free. That’s kinda like outlining, I guess. We’ll see how this go.

      Liked by 1 person

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